Service of Unusual Names: Fun to be Different?

April 1st, 2021

Categories: Flowers, Name, Nature, Plants

Anise plant Photo: insteading.com

My husband’s name was Homer and mine is Jeanne-Marie—atypical in the day–so it didn’t take long, in first grade, for me to become Jeannie, now Jeanne–JM to the family. I relish being different now; I didn’t as a child.

Rowan Photo: en.wikipedia.org

Caroline Bologna reported in the Huffington Post that these days parents are naming babies after herbs and spices from Anise to Yarrow. In 2019 most popular were Jasmine and Juniper, the former given to 2,092 girls and the latter to 22 boys and 1,526 girls. Sage did well coming in at 666 boys and 1,164 girls.

Sophie Kihm wrote about botanical baby names on nameberry.com. She identified Aspen, Briar, Nash, Rowan, Sylvie, and Zaria, Acacias, Juniper, Magnolia, Laramie, Indigo and Oak to name a few. We’re used to Lilly, Daisy and Oliver but the others?

Mary [the only name on the post] on wehavekids.com listed 38 earthy boys names some of which are Alder, Ash, Aspen, Aster, Birk, Elm, Jonquil, Spruce and I knew someone who named her daughter–Lake.

I imagine that having a traditional name that is spelled unusually can be a lifelong burden as people would always get it wrong. Jeanne is a challenge.  I wonder if children mind having these unusual names. What about adults? What’s the most unconventional name you’ve heard?

Aspen trees Photo: en.wikipedia.org

16 Responses to “Service of Unusual Names: Fun to be Different?”

  1. Easter Bunny Said:

    My sister’s b-friend changed his first name from “Eric” his father’s name to “Loxidon” which means African elephant and he went by Lox. He also changed his last name to something like “awesome” in Spanish. Ridiculous.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Easter B,

    I’ve always liked the name Eric. I suspect that Lox didn’t care much for his Dad.

  3. Eileen Dover Said:

    Nobody in my family goes by their given name. Even our cat changed her name several times since we’ve adopted her! Guess the joke is on us…we don’t get to pick our parents or what they name us!

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Eileen,

    True! One of my uncles wanted to name his daughter Ann but because of his last name he didn’t want her saddled with the initials AK. I’d not thought of that until he mentioned it!

    My father had a bunch of names before his last one: Georges Renee Marie Bernard. Long lists of names was the tradition in his family. He used Georges for business and Bernard for family and friends. I imagine that with four spaces to fill a parent has made key relatives in a family happy!

  5. Debbie Kunen Said:

    Debbie on Facebook: my family name is not that difficult but 90% pronounce it incorrectly and when they have to “guess” how to spell it, they are ALWAYS wrong. LOL!

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Debbie,

    I have had three last names of from one to three syllables. In my statistically insignificant life study I’ve found that any more than one and Americans falter. Not sure how you’d mispronounce Kunen though and as bad a speller as I am I think I might have gotten it right once hearing you say it….straightforward as you said.

    A friend from my Air Force wife days’ maiden name was Lehman. She pronounced it “Layman.” At the time I’d only heard it pronounced “Leeman” as in the former NY Governor [1933-1942]. So there’s that.

  7. RCF Said:

    I was given what I think is a wonderful name-my Grandfather was determined that one of his grandchildren be named Rhona. First my oldest sister was called Rhona not Mary, until my second sister was born. She was christened Ann much to my Grandfather’s frustration. And then, at last I came along and I “won” the name. True, people often call me Rhonda or Rhoda. But I have gotten used to correcting my new acquaintances. Add to that my husband’s and my decision to hyphenate our name! When I am asked for my name, I take a deep breath, spell it out, and if people are interested explain the origins of the complexity. And I do love the deep roots my name provides.”Rhona, a small rocky island off the Northwest coast of Scotland…”My mother is a highland scot.
    But enough-you’ve probably gotten many replies to your splendid message!

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:

    RCF,

    I’ve always liked your name which I’ve known since first grade! Similar to your Rhonda or Rhoda, Homer was often called Horace.

    It’s funny that you take a breath before saying your name to strangers who need to get it right. When asked for my email address I always start with “I will say it and then spell it out for you.” That way the person is alerted to its length. Seems to help.

  9. Lucrezia Said:

    Much depends upon how one gets along with one’s name. If the name is so outrageous, and/or one feels uncomfortable with it, it may be dropped for something more desirable. It’s an uncomplicated maneuver which is legal so long as the change isn’t a means to commit fraud.

    One strange name comes to mind. A distant cousin grew up with the moniker, Leopold Rex Katzenstein. What could the parents have been thinking?

  10. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Lucrezia,

    Speaking of Rex, I once had a client whose first name was Sir. He often received royal treatment at hotels when he combined it with his middle and last names. When I see CBS Newsman Major Garrett I often wonder if his parents hadn’t also considered General or Sergeant.

  11. Nancie Steinberg Said:

    Nancie on Facebook: The way I see it is if you truly know me you KNOW how to spell my name correctly!! I know it is an unusual spelling but what my parents gave me and I like it!!

  12. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Nancie,

    You can’t get angry at Autocorrect—though I do. It refuses to acknowledge the ie! Grump.

  13. MarthaTakayama Said:

    My name was Martha Fay Tepper. My mother sometimes called e Marmee. When I married I followed my mother. I dropped my middle name and became Martha Tepper Takayama. My sister was Susan Barbara Tepper, called Suki by family, but after marriage became Susan Tepper Papadopoulos. I have all kinds of interesting experiences with people who think that I may or may not be Japanese and that Susan may or may not be Greek. It is interesting to note all the different ways people react because of the perceptions our names evoke varying to an amazing degree and often reflecting cliches, social snobbery, and even ethnic prejudices. For some people my sister’s name meant that because of her physicist husband she belonged to the world of Jacquie and Onassis, while my government co-workers (federal agents) asked with slight disdain if my brother-in=law had a pizzeria. A family friend offended me sorely because my marriage and my name bothered her because of World War II. Other people have had very different reactions even being surprised that a Japanese girl would be named Martha. During the heyday of Japanese economic activity in New York and with Seiji Ozawa as the musical idol of the Boston Symphony my last name meant deferential treatment in making any kind of reservation. I guess I always thought Dominique would have been a glamorous first name.

  14. Kathleen Said:

    Friends told us their first grandson was named Phinneaus! No one can imagine where or why! Both sets of grandchildren decided to claim the other set of grandparents as a “family” name. But they call him Fin and he is great!

  15. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Martha,

    I’ve liked all my last names. I thought I’d revert to my maiden name when I married again but my second husband wanted me very much to share his. I like the concept of hyphenated last names but with a hyphenated first name it would have been too much so I never mentioned it. Plus, I doubt it would have flown for one second with my second husband had he been asked to follow suit.

  16. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Kathleen,

    Phinneaus–that is a mouthful for an infant and his friends to say. I like Fin. Lots of people name their kids after ancestors’ last names. If the names are handsome, why not? It’s better than being named Whisper or Cloud or something artsy, cutesy or uber creative.

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